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The True Meaning of Teamwork
It never fails to surprise me how many times 'a lack of teamwork' is blamed for such a wide variety of everyday business dilemmas. Dilemmas like late delivery, poor quality, a blown budget or poor customer management.
The simple truth is that people in business today do not understand the true concept of teamwork. Over the years there have been some unbelievable examples of teamwork in our day-to-day lives; like the 1927 New York Yankees Baseball Team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins Football Team, the Navy SEAL Teams or Fire Fighters anywhere - the list goes on and on.
So how do we consistently achieve the type of teamwork where all team members feel the same way about a goal or a mission, they work towards that end and it comes naturally … in business ? I don't think we can - not because it isn't possible, because it requires a type of commitment that isn't achievable in today's business environment.
Today's business teams are inundated with so many outside influences that the end-point often becomes blurred and the teamwork begins to deteriorate because of the multiple responsibilities of each of the team members.
It has long been understood that winning teams contain certain characteristics:
Basically winning is a habit … just like losing. The fact of the matter is that all great teams have one thing in common, which fundamentally ensures True Teamwork - a single focus. This is precisely why I don't believe that True Teamwork can be accomplished in today's business environment. If an organization wants to be successful in today's global workplace, where fewer people are asked to do more with even fewer resources, multi-tasking is essential which means a singular focus is virtually impossible.
Let's examine the team characteristics of one of our outstanding teams- The 1927 New York Yankees Baseball Team: affectionately named Murderers' Row, in deference to a line-up dominated by two incomparable sluggers. Babe Ruth (.356 BA, 60 HRs, 164 RBIs, 158 runs, 137 BBs) and Lou Gehrig (.373 BA, 47 HRs, 175 RBIs, 149 runs, 109 BBs) posted numbers that would earn them nine-figure deals in today's market. The Yankees topped the AL in home runs with 156, exactly 100 more than any other team. Ruth out-homered all seven other AL clubs himself. Bolstered by the league's best pitching staff, the Yankees set an American League record with 110 wins, outpacing second-place Philadelphia by 19 games. They were in first place every day of the season, then polished off the Pirates, 4-0, in the World Series. No team has ever so dominated an entire season.2
Continuing with the belief that winning teams have certain notable characteristics; the 1927 New York Yankees' characteristics would be listed as follows:
If this is truly the case, then why bother to pursue team building and/or teamwork in your organization? Simple, regardless of whether or not you find the ultimate True Teamwork experience, the foundation of the teamwork philosophy offers many of the values directly attributable to organizational success - complementary skills, well-defined working approach, meaningful purpose, clear performance goals, mutual accountability and small numbers.
All is not lost, when building a team there are things that can be done to position your team for success, like The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork:
These laws will not guarantee successful teams or successful teamwork, but they will definitely put you on the correct path to success … what more can you ask for.
If you take only one thought away from this article, please let it be that you will be honest in your quest for successful teamwork, and recognize the fact that True Teamwork is an elusive and magical result that should be left to companies with a single product or focus (if they exist), our everyday heroes and sports franchises chasing a world championship.
Any teamwork venture not having to live up to the True Teamwork lofty standards will have a much greater chance for success.
I will leave you with the following two quotes, which epitomize the essence of True Teamwork …
"Coming together is a beginning, Keeping together is progress & Working together is success" - Henry Ford
"Synergy - the bonus that is achieved when things work together harmoniously" - Mark Twain
1. Winning Team Characteristics: http://www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/crosscuttings/team_main.html
2. The 1927 New York Yankees: http://www.historicbaseball.com/teams/1927yankees.html
3. The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: http://www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/crosscuttings/team_main.html
Many more articles in High Performance Teams in The CEO Refresher Archives